What Do Vegans Eat? Just A Big Bowl Of Kale?

What Do Vegans Eat? Just A Big Bowl Of Kale?
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

When you tell someone you’re vegan, and that you don’t eat any animal flesh or animal products (like milk, eggs or honey), do you get a funny look and then the question, ‘well, what do vegans eat? Just salad?’

I get that a fair bit, and especially here in Peru. Everyone understands ‘vegetariano’, but when I tell them I also don’t eat milk, cheese or eggs, they get a bit flustered.

I understand, especially when those foods are so much a part of cultural dishes. But at the same time, I find it funny that people often don’t realize how much of what they eat are plant foods.

What Do Vegans Eat?

So what do vegans eat? We eat tons of amazingly delicious food! We definitely go beyond salads, although I do love big bowls of kale…

We eat all kinds of fun stuff – like chocolate, ice cream, cookies, chips and dip. We eat comfort foods, like peanut butter and mashed potatoes with gravy and casseroles and warm creamy soups.

Pretty much anything you can think of can be made with plant foods, so what vegans eat is whatever our hearts desire.

For those of use who like to eat healthy foods, we can even make all of those fun things in a healthy way. I eat frozen fruit ice cream pretty much every day, and I make my own healthy cookies on a regular basis.

My only problem is that my meals and treats always taste so good – and I know they’re so healthy – that I sometimes wind up eating too much, which is only bad if it gets so my stomach hurts.

The basis of a healthy eating plan is to get lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, beans and legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. That works out to a lot of food and a lot of fantastic dishes that can be made!

Check out my healthy food list for all the amazing foods I buy on a regular basis.

I often get the question ‘do vegans eat bread?’ and ‘do vegans eat pasta?’ Sure! As long as they’re not made with dairy, eggs or honey (which most breads and pastas aren’t) they’re fine.

I never, ever feel deprived eating healthy whole plant foods. In fact, I usually find that I just don’t have enough hours in the day to eat all the things I love and give me nourishment.

Vegan Travel Phrases

For anyone travelling as a vegan, it’s really important to know how to explain what you don’t eat in the local language, otherwise you might wind up with a huge pile of cheese on top of your salad.

Here are the 3 languages I know:

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no milk = sin leche
no cheese = sin queso
no butter = sin mantequilla
no eggs = sin huevos
no honey = sin miel

no milk = sans lait
no cheese = sans fromage
no butter = sans beurre
no eggs = sans oeufs (pronounced ‘san-zuh’)
no honey = sans miel

no milk = sem leite
no cheese = sem queijo
no butter = sem manteiga
no eggs = sem ovos
no honey = sem mel

For a more thorough vegan vocabulary, and in other languages, the vegan passport is a great little thing to take with you. They even have an app now so you don’t have to carry the booklet.

Specifying Vegan

Actually, a lot of the time I have to specify what I can’t eat in North America, too. Growing up with a dairy allergy, I’ve learned over the years to always tell my server that I can’t eat dairy no matter what I order – because I’ve been surprised with cheese on dishes that I would never expect it on.

It’s also important to tell people – and to know for yourself! – what vegans can eat because other odd things can happen. For instance, one time in a restaurant I was served apple-cinnamon rice cakes instead of bread because the server thought I couldn’t eat gluten.

Whenever I go to someone’s house for a meal, I try to remember to let them know what vegans eat and what we don’t eat. Otherwise, there’s often an awkward moment where I feel awful and have to explain if I can’t eat a particular dish that they’ve prepared.

Sometimes you tell someone you’re vegan, and they say ‘oh, sure, no problem!’ But then it turns out they didn’t realize you can’t eat butter or something. So it’s always best to clarify.

I want to stress again that vegan food isn’t anything extreme or restrictive – it’s fresh vegetables and fruit, beans and legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and anything made from those foods.

And vegan food isn’t restrictive when you look at all the possibilities there are. I actually eat a lot more different foods now than I did before – more kinds of vegetables, grains and beans and I experiment much more with spices and herbs.

My 3-week vegan meal plan is a great way to start if you don’t know how to go about getting the right foods and balanced nutrition – I give you all the recipes you need for every meal, plus grocery lists and lots of support.


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